Copperas Cove firefighters conducted special patrols to generate awareness of speed limits and pedestrians in school zones Monday through Thursday.
“If we have prevented just one fatality, we have done our job,” said Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young. “Maybe we can prevent a child from getting run over.”
Before the school bell rang on the first day of school and after the release bell sounded, on-duty firefighters took up positions outside Copperas Cove Independent School District campuses near the borders of school zones. Emergency crews armed themselves with signs that told drivers to slow down and watch for children. Often, ambulances’ lights would be flashing.
“Some people may not take notice of that school zone sign,” Young said. “But if they see the flashing lights, they are likely to slow down.”
Firefighters wanted to educate motorists that school is back in session and children are walking near and crossing city streets, Young said.
While school zone signs stand out and drivers should pay attention to them, some motorists may not have children and not know school is back in session.
“You have kiddos every year that have never walked to school,” Young said, pointing out they may not use crosswalks or the crossing guards.
The annual special patrols help make those motorists aware of school zones, he said. Generating that extra awareness is why firefighters started taking up positions around the city five years ago.
Emergency service personnel — firefighters, police officers and emergency medical crews — don’t just respond to incidents, Young said. Public awareness is a major part of emergency services.
“We have a serious and legitimate reason to try and prevent traumatic injuries,” he said.
City reports didn’t state how many, if any, pedestrian vs. vehicular accidents were reported last year. However, the fire department responded to 726 rescue and emergency medical service calls, which include motor vehicle collisions.
Young said pedestrian incidents are rare in the city, and he wants to keep it that way.
Among some of the busiest foot-traffic streets because of school zones are Courtney Lane, Veterans Avenue and Fairbanks.
But people should watch out for pedestrians no matter where they are in the city, especially in school zones, Young said.
“This is all about prevention,” he said.